Transition of adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease from pediatric to adult care: a survey of adult gastroenterologists

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2009 Jan;48(1):61-5. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e31816d71d8.


Objectives: Transition of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) from pediatric to adult providers requires preparation. Gastroenterologists for adult patients ("adult gastroenterologists") may have expectations of patients that are different from those of pediatric patients. We sought to explore the perspectives of adult gastroenterologists caring for adolescents and young adults with IBD, to improve preparation for transition.

Materials and methods: A survey sent to 1132 adult gastroenterologists caring for patients with IBD asked physicians to rank the importance of patient competencies thought necessary in successful transition to an adult practice. Providers reported which problems occurred in patients with IBD transitioning to their own practice. Adult gastroenterologists were asked about medical and developmental issues that are unique to adolescence.

Results: A response rate of 34% was achieved. Adult gastroenterologists reported that young adults with IBD often demonstrated deficits in knowledge of their medical history (55%) and medication regimens (69%). In addition, 51% of adult gastroenterologists reported receiving inadequate medical history from pediatric providers. Adult providers were less concerned about the ability of patients to identify previous and current health care providers (19%), or attend office visits by themselves (15%). Knowledge of adolescent medical and developmental issues was perceived as important by adult gastroenterologists; however, only 46% felt competent addressing the developmental aspects of adolescents.

Conclusions: For successful transition, adolescents and young adults with IBD need improved education about their medical history and medications. Pediatric providers need to improve communication with the receiving physicians. In addition, adult providers may benefit from further training in adolescent issues. Formal transition checklists and programs may improve the transition of patients with IBD from pediatric to adult care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development*
  • Adolescent Health Services*
  • Female
  • Gastroenterology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy*
  • Male
  • Pediatrics
  • Private Practice